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Speaking of hi-centered, Steve did mange to get himself stuck straddling a rock. The recent rains had changed the wash a bit and kept his front tires from getting the necessary traction to pull him over the rocks. I tried strapping him off from the front and only succeeded in digging 4 nice holes in the wash. Dion got into the action and was able to get Steve strapped off the rock pile backwards. Like they say, "Sometimes you get the rocks and sometimes they get you!"
With only two more major obstacles ahead of us, we gathered up the tow straps and headed off for Raw Deal's version of the "Golden Crack". Now the crack, like it's tougher Moab cousin, is meant to be navigated at a more or less perpendicular fashion...give or take a bit based on the driver's discretion. Steve, being rather adventuresome, decided to try running the obstacle along its length, which is pretty significant.
He was about the length of his YJ into it when we heard what sounded like a rifle shot. I clutched in the my TJ, killed the engine, and left it up on the bedrock while I headed down towards Steve. Sure enough, the passenger axle u-joint has exploded. Although he had a spare u-joint and axle stub, his current position did not allow for a trail repair. He decided to try moving ahead a bit and see if he could get into a better spot for the repair. BANG....the u-joint at the other end of the axle went and it took the ball joint with it.
Steve was in a bad way, to say the least. His driver's side front tire was laying almost flat on the ground. His YJ was not looking good. After some discussion and inspection, the hi-lift was brought out and the remaining good front tire was lifted high into the air. Unless we could get a pile of rocks under it so it could more easily roll over the bedrock ledge, we weren't getting the YJ out. Going forward was impossible and going back was almost that bad.
The jack held and we got a good load of rocks under the tire, enough anyway to give the YJ a fighting chance of being pulled backwards out of the obstacle. We grabbed a tow strap and hooked it to the rear of the YJ. With easy throttle on the tow Jeep, Steve assisted with 2WD and reverse gear. It was not pretty, but the YJ came out dragging the front axle tube in the wash like a poorly designed plow share.
Steve called a close friend (you got to have close friends when you do these things to your Jeep) who could provide assistance in the form of a flat bed trailer. About an hour or so later, Jimmy showed up with the trailer. With help from Dion, he was able to piece back a chunk of the ball joint and actually got the YJs hub to stay in place long enough for Steve to get out of the wash. Luckily, the section that leads up to the Golden Crack has an "opt out" trail and Steve was able to get the YJ up it in just 2WD. From there, Jimmy got the YJ loaded onto the trailer and headed back towards Phoenix.
Through all of this, Steve was pretty much smiling (especially once he saw that the YJ was coming home that day). He has a D44 front axle that has been waiting to replace the D30 and it looks like now is as good a time as any to do just that. We'll see if the D60 that Steve has been making rumblings about will end up going in at the same time.
For now, Steve and Jimmy will be spending some time on the YJ. When it is done, you can bet we'll be back on Raw Deal and Steve will drive his rig down the Golden Crack (or take out another axle trying!). Once again, Raw Deal has lived up to its name. This time, Steve got the raw deal. Next time....who knows who it will be?
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